Parramatta Eels winger George Jennings says it took years for a badly broken leg – which effectively ended his Telstra Premiership career at former club Penrith – to feel up to the rigours of NRL football again.
George and younger brother Robert – who plays on the wing for the Rabbitohs – have each grown up in the shadow of eldest brother Michael, who is now George's teammate and right-side centre partner at the Eels.
The trio came through the grades at Penrith but 29-year-old Michael was an established star long before George (24) and Robert (22) started to make their way into first grade.
With Michael being forced out of the club to the Roosters before either of his younger brothers debuted, the younger pair each made their debuts in what was an injury-ravaged 2015 season at Penrith, but never played in the same game as each other.
As a result, George's Parramatta club debut in round four was the first time two Jennings brothers had featured in an NRL game as teammates.
"It's been awesome, it's been surreal, it's something I've always wanted to do is play alongside my brother," George told NRL.com after his side's narrow 12-6 loss to former club Penrith on Sunday afternoon.
"In saying that it's been pretty disappointing not coming away with the wins. I just want to get that feeling of winning alongside my brother. We've just got to keep playing hard the way we are and it will turn."
Jennings admitted it had been a tough three-year wait from his previous NRL stint trying to earn another opportunity.
His five-game run in early 2015 was ended by a nasty broken leg, suffered when then-Manly prop Luke Burgess fell awkwardly on the winger's leg in a tackle, ending his season. A shoulder injury early in 2016 scuppered his hopes of a comeback and he eventually sought an opportunity at the Eels, where he plugged away in the Intrust Super Premiership through 2017.
"I was playing first grade at Penrith and I got injured there and missed the whole year. I came back and sort of didn't feel the same, my legs didn't feel the same but now I feel good."
Jennings said older brother Michael had been a big help in terms of his presence but hadn't had a lot to say when it came to football.
"He (Michael) has been a big help. Just looking up, having him playing inside me gives me a lot of confidence and makes my job easier. He's been good, I'm enjoying every minute of it," Jennings said.
"Growing up, me and my little brother have always been in the shadows of [Michael] and he's just left us alone. He lets us do our own thing, he doesn't really talk to us about football, he lets us play our own game."
Despite his own solid form – scoring a try in each of his two games for the club to date – Jennings was, like his teammates, disappointed to have put so much effort in against Penrith and still end up with a fifth straight loss.
"As you can see that second half, the boys put in a lot of effort there and we dug deep," Jennings said.
"We just have to keep turning up like that every week from now on and things will change."